Top global firms have led the charge to support a new rival to the under-fire CBI lobbying organisation.
Energy giant BP, power firm Drax, Heathrow Airport and international hoteliers IHG have become founding members of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) business council.
The organisation is set to take on the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for the crown as the UK’s premier industry voice.
It comes as the CBI prepares to enter a crunch week ahead of a crucial vote on Tuesday that will see members cast ballots on the organisation’s very survival.
Comprised of top national business leaders, the BCC’s new body aims to design and drive the future of the UK’s economy, with the four founding members a key part of the new national offer.
BCC director-general Shevaun Haviland and president Baroness Martha Lane Fox will meet with firms at a central London round table this afternoon to launch the scheme.
‘Different kind of representation’
The director-general said the BCC had spoken to “the nation’s largest corporates” in recent months and “it has become clear to us they are looking for a different kind of representation”.
A so-called ‘future of the economy initiative’, led by Lane Fox, will also focus on the issues of digital revolution; people and work; net zero; global Britain and challenges to the high street.
Haviland added: “These challenges will form the backdrop to the next general election, which we know will come before the end of next year, and which everyone in Westminster is already gearing up for.
“The voice of business needs to be heard loud and clear, and now is the right time for us to speak up.”
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said his firm was “delighted” to become a “proud founding member” of the BCC’s business council.
Ross McKenzie, Drax corporate affairs director, said the company had a “long-standing and successful relationship” with the BCC and this was the “next step in our journey”.
While Yasmin Diamond, executive VP at IHG Hotels & Resorts, said the initiative “provides a new way to participate in the national policy debate” and would be an “invaluable asset”.
And Louise Kingham, senior Europe VP at BP, added: “The UK needs to retain its international competitiveness and it is essential that the voice of business is heard.
“We are therefore delighted to become a founding partner of the new business council.”
The CBI has been approached for comment.